Understand the animal rights/welfare movement’s “half-a-loaf” problem (Part III)

i January 14, 2015


 By understanding the animal rights/welfare movement’s “half-a-loaf” problem (Part III)


As ISAR’s supporters know, one of our major programs is “Stop Devocalization Now.” (Model Prohibition of Devocalization Statute, Understand that Maryland’s recently enacted anti-devocalization law, though well intentioned, is inadequate, Support Anti-devocalization Legislation, ISAR’s Stop Devocalization Now Video, ISAR gets out the word about our Stop Devocalization Project, Stop Devocalization Now)

Not long ago, California was poised to enact a statute prohibiting landlords from requiring tenants to declaw or devocalize their companion animals. According to Legislative Counsel’s digest of the bill, it “would prohibit a landlord that allows a tenant to have an animal on the premises from advertising or establishing rental policies in a manner that requires a tenant or a potential tenant with an animal to have that animal declawed or devocalized, for nontherapeutic purposes, as a condition of occupancy.”

All well and good, and ISAR supported the effort.

But the California bill illustrated the “half-a-loaf” problem, yet again. Yes, it was “the good” that some companion animals would be spared the barbaric practices of devocalization and declawing. But what about the countless companion animals not residing in rented premises who had been, and would continue to be, mutilated because of their annoying barking and scratching of couches? If devocalization and declawing were objectionable (let alone immoral) and should have been prohibited by California law in the comparatively minor landlord-tenant context, it is not possible to justify the imposition of those practices on any animals in any context whatsoever.

What to do?

ISAR supported the California bill, but with the same reservation we have expressed about tethering and other “mixed” animal protection legislation. We insist on making unmistakably clear that both as a moral and humane imperative we unequivocally oppose the practices of devocalization and declawing, and that our support of the California legislation was not intended, nor should it have been construed as, our sanction, approval, or any other endorsement of those barbaric practices.

If ISAR had its way, California and every other state would immediately enact broad anti-devocalization (and anti-declawing) laws, as Massachusetts has done, making devocalization of companion animals illegal, with severe penalties for violation of the law.

To be continued